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Full text of "A history of Persia"

AGGRESSION ON AFGHANISTAN      433
comer and for a fortnight would not hear of ratifying the
agreement made by the British Minister. As, however,
Herat did not fall he began to think of it again ; though,
still hoping for success, he could not make up his mind
to face the loss of prestige which failure would involve.
The smallest advantage would buoy him up and a promise
of aid from Kandahar made him decide to continue the
siege. At the same time he slighted the British Envoy
and refused redress when one of his couriers was seized,
being under the impression that Great Britain valued the
friendship of Persia so highly that she would stand even
affronts to her representative.
Matters were in this unsatisfactory state when the
Shah, at a private audience, agreed to fulfil the terms of
the agreement if the Minister would assure him officially
in writing that he would incur* the anger of the British
Government if the siege were continued. The object of
this, it was explained, was to prove to all that the Shah
was raising the siege in order to avoid offending Great
Britain. The fickle monarch next attempted to extort a
large pecuniary payment for complying with the wishes
of Great Britain, and in view of the lavishness which had
marked previous missions he had good reason to expect
some pecuniary aid. This, however, was refused, and so
he turned the tables on the Minister by sending him a
despatch in which the terms of his communication were
treated as an attack upon the sovereign independent
rights of the King of Kings. This document and the
hostile spirit of the Persian Court induced the British
Envoy to quit the royal camp. At Shahrud he received
instructions from England to express to the Shah the
strongest disapproval of Her Majesty's Government at
his conduct in connexion with Herat and to state that
Great Britain would regard the occupation of that city as
a hostile act. Finally he was to point out that the island
of Kharak had been occupied by British troops.
Shortly after the departure of the British Envoy a
final effort was made by the Persian army. For six days
the defences were battered and a general assault planned
by General Simonich was delivered. Thrice the breach
VOL. II                                                                                 2 F